Pieter Hugo at Fotografiska

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Pieter Hugo is a South African photographer who grew up in a country seething from apartheid. Being white he quickly realized that the gaps between black and white South Africans was huge and he decided to document this fact (and others of course). In most pictures he looks really gloomy but I can assure you he is not 🙂

DSC_9043During the interview at Fotografiska he told us that due to the boycott, young people never got the chance to listen to American or European rock music. ”An U2 album was impossible to get hold of unless somebody brought it back from a trip”. This is quite hard for us in the rest of the world to understand (unless you grew up in the Eastern block, Cuba or North Korea…). Here he is next to the Dutch curator Wim van Sinderen.

DSC_9064      DSC_9063From the series ”Nollywood”, shot in Nigeria. This is the third largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood. 500 – 1000 movies are made there every year and many of them deal with subjects like romance, witchcraft, prostitution and bribery.

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His images are sometimes disturbing but also fascinating as it feels like he’s managed to snap short moments of peoples lives. These photos are from his collection ”The Hyena & Other Men” (2005-2007). Pieter tagged on to a group of street entertainers who travel around Nigeria with tamed snakes, hyenas, monkeys and other wild animals. I sure feel sorry for those animals, especially the hyenas 🙁

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This collection is called Permanent Error and I find the pictures quite sad (as with many of Pieters photos). These are people who spend their days at a huge computer dump site in Ghana, scavenging for just about anything that might be worth something. They salvage what they can and sell it on for a pittance. Talk about recycling! Needless to say the environment is extremely hazardous and the air is full of poison gases from the hundreds of plastic fires around the dump.

DSC_9042I love this photo of a happy couple who finally were blessed with a child. Black and white mix is still not quite kosher: ”Despite the many ethnic groups, South Africa is still far from the ideal of a multi-cultural society. There is still a deep trench going through the population. Black and white people lead largely separate lives with few points of contact”

DSC_9026Then of course, there is a collection of very naked normal people posing in their own homes.

DSC_9022Actually I noticed quite a few naked portraits and I wonder how come people so readily shed their clothes for Pieter Hugo….or maybe it’s just the South African way…This is his pregnant wife by the way, with their daughter Sophia in her belly. From the Kin-collection.

DSC_9029Another photo from The Hyena & Other Men collection.

DSC_9035Pieter (far right) and his friends photographed with a camera that can detect sun damage to the skin. They all look quite scary, but then you and I would too…

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Very VERY disturbing pictures from the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. I know I am horrible to show such images but I think it’s really important that we remind ourselves that these awful mass murders take place in the world all the time! We must never ever forget the poor people who are caught in the middle. This series is called Vestiges of a Genocide.

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This guy, Louis Washkansky, is a wax mannequin. He became the world’s first human heart transplant recipient. Is it just me, or doesn’t his arm look a bit askew?

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My impression of Pieter is that of a person whose eyes have seen way too much sadness and hopelessness but still manages to smile at the mundane things in life. Growing up in South Africa in the 80’s and 90’s must have been tough, not matter if you’re black or white. Everybody should see this exhibition that runs until 24v November. For all of you who don’t live in Stockholm, I suggest you check out Hugo’s web site.

…And I promise to show you something more easy going next time. Have a great week-end!

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